Music Academy of the West Mosher Guest Artist and violinist Daniel Hope will perform half a concert solo and half a concert as leader of a chamber orchestra of academy faculty and fellows at 8 p.m. Saturday in Hahn Hall at Miraflores.
“In a business that likes tidy boxes drawn around its commodities,” critic Steve Smith wrote in the New York Times, “the British violinist Daniel Hope resists categorization. Mr. Hope, a compelling performer whose work involves standard repertory, new music, raga, and jazz, emphasizes thoughtful engagement over flamboyant display. In his most personal undertakings, he puts classical works within a broader context — not just among other styles and genres but amid history, literature and drama — to emphasize music’s role as a mirror for struggle and aspiration.”
On his own, Hope will be playing the Passacaglia for Solo Violin in G-Minor, C. 105 — from the set of 16 sonatas known variously as “The Mystery Sonatas,” “The Rosary Sonatas” or “The Copper-Engraving Sonatas” — by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern (1644-1704); the sparks-flying A Paganini by Alfred Schnittke (1934-98); the Sonata for Solo Violin by Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942); and then, with the orchestra, Recomposed: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons by Max Richter (born in 1966).
The putative date of the composition of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas is 1676, but that is no more than a reasonable guess. In fact, for all their obvious grandeur and emotional power, these great masterworks dropped into an oubliette immediately after they were composed and for 200 years after Biber’s death, no one heard or had heard of them until they were discovered in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, and then published in 1905. The first 15 are in the standard 17th century format of alternating slow and fast movements, but the concluding Passacaglia is a single, ravishing movement.
Despite his name, Schnittke was a Russian, and his showpiece, To Paganini, is a mesmerizing exercise in virtuosity.
Schulhoff, despite his name and Central European background, was distinctly French-leaning in his music: light-hearted, ironic, capable of passion, but never lugubrious. His sound world is quite close to that of his countryman, Martinu. He died from tuberculosis in the Wülzburg concentration camp in Bavaria.
A Czech by birth and culture, he wasn’t only of a Jewish family, he was himself something of a Bolshie. He had petitioned the Soviet Union for citizenship and they had granted it, but he was arrested before he could get out of the country.
Richter really did “recompose” the famous Vivaldi work; it’s not just a little here/little there matter of re-orchestration. The result is often lovely, sometimes breath-taking, and always a little unsettling. The original composition Four Seasons flutters along above and beside Richter’s music, like a butterfly flapping against a porch screen.
Tickets to the Hope concert are $50. For tickets and information, call 805.969.8787. Free parking is available on the Music Academy campus at 1070 Fairway Road in Santa Barbara. Information is also available online by clicking here.